The casual visitor to Italy may leave with the impression that Italians pay scant regard to the multiple laws, regulations and ordinances that regale daily life here. This is not surprising really, especially when you look at the examples set by Italy’s politicians.
What you have to bear in mind is that Italy has only been a united country for just over 150 years and, in some respects, little has changed from the days of feudal power bases in the separate provinces. Indeed, the classic example is the power base in the North that has allowed Silvio Berlusconi to flout laws, court judgements and and just about everything else. He who controls the media reigns supreme?
What kind of an example does this show to the citizens?
This, coupled with the scant regard by many officials in Italy to the application of the regulations, does not engender respect. Not surprising therefore that the average Italian will do whatever he can to circumvent or even ignore many of the rules that are supposed to govern his life. This situation is not helped by the fact that an ordinance can be passed by parliament one day and rescinded or amended the next.
And what about the Banks?
Where else in the world do you have to pay the banks for the privilege of looking after your money? Is it any wonder that when the Euro was introduced, sack loads of lire were taken from their hiding places under the floorboards and from mattresses and presented with their attendant musty odours to be exchanged? I wonder sometimes how many more “savings” have now taken their place.
When I look out from my house in Barga in Tuscany, I am greeted by the sight of thousands of hectares of lush forests. I can see the rising of steam from the numerous paper mills that occupy many sites along the banks of the Serchio river. I ponder on whether the supply of paper will ever run out, for in order to complete the simplest of tasks at the bank or post office, it requires half a rain forest and enough signatures make my hand tired. It appears necessary to quote every regulation or ordinance that may have the most tenuous link to the transaction in hand. I have visions of vast subterranean caverns full of completed forms, or do they merely shred them at the end of the day?
You may imagine that this article about Italy is an implied criticism of this beautiful country, but no! I, like the locals, take it all in my stride. It is a small price to pay for the pleasure, friendship and joy that its people have handed me unconditionally.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
Despite everything the people have an immense pride in their country, and long may they continue to do so.
By David Wineman
David Wineman is the pen name of a retired international businessman who has always harboured a passion for writing.
Having retired from a life of travel to Barga in Tuscany, David found himself with enough to time to write and the result was this debut novel Simon Says.
You can find out more about David’s book here: Simon Says by David Wineman
Or visit David’s website: David Wineman